Pressure mounts against Kenya CJ

March 20, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 – Lawyers and the Civil Society movement have renewed their push for the removal of Chief Justice Evan Gicheru for failing to institute necessary judicial reforms.

In a joint statement, the Law Society of Kenya, International Commission of Jurists, Federation of Women Lawyers, and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights accused Justice Gicheru of failing to institute transparency and merit in the process of appointing judges and instead opening it up to cartels.

“The Chief Justice has played along with these cartels and connections and allowed them to take foothold on the affairs of the judiciary,” KNCHR Chairperson Florence Jaoko, who read their statement, accused.

The organisations demanded that future appointments of members of the Bench be suspended, until the law is amended to allow for the reconstitution of the Judicial Service Commission to include non-state actors and open it up to merit.  LSK Chairman Okong’o Omogeni said some lawyers had been informed that they were to be sworn in as judges next week, but there was no transparency.

“We don’t want this issue of the process being shrouded in secrecy because the process is not consultative enough,” he said.

The Judicial Service Commission which is made up of the Attorney General, Chief Justice, Chairman of the Public Service Commission and two judges appointed by the President, makes proposals to the Head of State for those to be appointed to the bench.

“It is hard to expect that the Judiciary can reform as a result of his stewardship. Justice Gicheru has had his ample time and it is time for a new Chief Justice,” Mrs Jaoko said.
ICJ Chairman Wilfred Nderitu and Secretary George Kegoro and colleague, FIDA deputy CEO Grace Maingi and LSK officials Apollo Mboya, Evans Monari and Lillian Omondi were also present.
The Judiciary has largely lost favour with the public and has been accused of delaying or averting justice.

However, the judges have remained defensive over their conduct. Speaking separately during the Judiciary Open Day, court of appeal judges Emanuel Okubasu, Joyce Aluoch, Philllip Waki and Samuel Bosire said the universal condemnation was not justified. The judges cited constitutional limitations and inadequate resources. They said their work was impeded by inadequate funds and personnel.

“Kenyans expect us to live in the courts working day and night on matters benefiting them only, and yet the taxpayer is not prepared to spend more money for the improvement of services in the judiciary,” Justice Bosire said.

“We are serving nearly 40 million people yet we are so few. So where we have not fulfilled is because of lack of staff,” Justice Aluoch said.

During the Open Day, the CJ handed over proposed amendments to the Civil Procedures Act. If enacted, the new legislation is expected to hasten the process of cases. According to Justice Gicheru, by last December, more than 645,000 cases were pending before the courts.


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